Published in partnership with Advocates for Youth.
To coincide with the 40th anniversary of Roe V. Wade, Advocates for Youth has published a book compiled from 40 stories submitted to the 1 in 3 Campaign. This article is the introduction to 1 in 3: These Are Our Stories, which is currently available in paperback and for Amazon Kindle.
1 in 3 women in the United States will have an abortion in her lifetime. The 1 in 3 Campaign is about ending the cultural stigma and shame women are made to feel around abortion. By sharing stories, we can empower others to end their silence and encourage all supporters of abortion access to publicly take a stand.
By Debra Hauser, President, Advocates for Youth
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In 1995, at age 35, I found myself alone, pregnant and caring for my six-month old son. My husband had gone to work one day and did not return. Weeks passed without word. For more than a month, I didn’t tell anyone that he was gone. Not my family, not my co-workers, not my friends. I simply went to work each day, attended to my job, and pretended everything was fine at home. Each evening, I left work, picked up my son from day care and did my best to care for him without distraction. Six weeks had passed when I realized I was pregnant. Alone, with little money and a baby to care for, it was clear to me that I could not care for another child. I did not know where my husband was; I did not know what would happen to my marriage; I wasn’t sure I could make ends meet. How could I add another child to such an untenable situation? I chose to have an abortion then and there. It was the best choice given my circumstances.
Much later, my husband returned. The following week he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder but refused to stay on his medication. We were eventually divorced and a few years later, he committed suicide. To this day, I am certain that choosing an abortion was the most responsible action that I could have taken—for me and for my son. Today, I am happily remarried and my son is now 18. He was recently accepted to the college of his choice—early decision. I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to provide for him as I have.
For more than 15 years I did not share this story.
One day, the staff here at Advocates for Youth, frustrated with the politicized debate that continued to threaten abortion access, began a discussion about what was needed to create a new cultural narrative around abortion—one steeped in empathy, cognizant of the complexities of women’s lives and supportive of safe abortion access for all women. We recognized that we needed to speak more from our hearts—to tell our personal stories, to give a face to the experiences of women throughout the ages. A young woman of 20 on staff began to share with us her experience as a teen parent who one day found herself pregnant again and sought an abortion. In response, I told her my story. We were not so different. That day, as we shared our stories across generations we found our voices. We also found community.
Now, as I share my story around the country, more often than not, other women offer up theirs in response. Some are family and friends whom I have known for years; others are complete strangers. The result is a bond, stronger than the anti-choice rhetoric or the fear of retaliation or violence that too often finds its way into the political debate. In its place is empathy for the complexity of our lives, for the commonalities that bind us, for the need to keep abortion care safe and available.
I am proud to be a part of the 1 in 3 Campaign. Mine is just one of many stories. Within this book are 40 more. Each author has given us permission to include her or his story; many have encouraged us to share them with you in hopes of creating a culture more compassionate of women’s experiences and in support of keeping abortion care safe and available.
Read them. Share them. Talk about them. These are our stories.